We might have a grasp on who we are, who we'd like to be, what we'd like to do, and a list of things we wish we either did or didn't do. It feels simple enough, doesn't it? Not every engineer is Isambard Kingdom Brunel, but even if their abilities do not match his, they can still make the choice to contribute to the world in a way that resonates with their values; In this way, even the supposedly average person can live a life of extraordinary meaning. In contrast, the most potentially extraordinary prodigies can actually end up with quite poor lives if they do not exercise their choice. The world doesn't owe you anything for your potential; If you're feeling unhappy or unsatisfied with life, you owe it to yourself to recognize and make choices that capitalize on this gift, even down to who you choose to support you when you feel like you can't go on. This is the essence of self-authorship. As a psychologist, I once had to help out an anonymous student who was struggling with some class or other--Physics or Accounting, I can't remember--and together we learned that his greatest stressor was actually his schoolwork as a whole. I saw his previous year's marks. He was a natural at all his subjects in the previous years, so I thought maybe he was just being a perfectionist. I invited him to bring along some notes on the subjects he was struggling with, so that I could get a better feel of what exactly he had to deal with in that year, and hopefully figure out why he was taking such a huge dive into stress. You are an optimist. She laughed. But I appreciate the support. Tara did figure out how to make rent. She also set up a visit to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, near where she was living. They have a good physical therapy program, and she found plenty of people to connect with. That was her partway. Last I heard, Tara was about to reach her halfway, enrolling in a night class at the university with some help from the financial aid office.

Up Next: More Than People Build the Future Like Tara, and like Maddox and his family, you have the power to imagine, design, and bring about the future you always wanted. In identifying the behaviors we'd like to change, we ought to be able to, you know, replace them. Unfortunately, it's seldom that easy because everything we do is underpinned by a need that's fulfilled by our current (learned) behaviors. We might be able to identify which behaviors we need to change and feel as though it's as simple as setting out with good intentions, and we feel buoyed up, confident, and motivated. When we flounder (as is likely when we're trying to change our behaviors because it's challenging to do), we don't chalk it up to learning, we become furious with ourselves, and the positivity and motivation ebb away. If we try again, we do so with the recent stumble hanging over our heads. Our confidence gets knocked, and because we are wired in such a way that we're oversensitive to the perceived negative and undersensitive to the perceived positive, it's harder the second, third, and fourth time around--once bitten, twice shy. Where to begin? With Enough-ness and Establishing Limits You are enough. Even when you don't feel it, you are enough. He told me he didn't have any notes. Oh, I quietly thought to myself. Were you able to hear your teacher? I asked aloud. Yes, but I really battle to understand what she's talking about. I don't understand why I'm struggling. I never used to before. Have you tried asking your teacher questions during class?

What about after class? Still nope. By seeing yourself in the future you want and taking specific steps, bit by bit, conversation by conversation, you will make that future happen. Embrace the idea that people build the future. You will build your future and the future of your family, your business, your community, and whatever else you choose. Identifying the people who can help will propel your future into reality. There is one more key element to learn when you are futurecasting your life. Over the years I have discovered that the future is not just built by people. That takes us to another key maxim of futurecasting, and the topic of our next article: the future is local. The Future Is Local The future is built by people. Hopefully I convinced you of that fact in the previous article. You are enough, particularly when you feel as though you are lacking, jaded, unworthy, too this and too that, frazzled, dropping balls, making mistakes, not yoga-ing, or when your pile of laundry and adulting gets to be too much--you are still enough. It's a universal truth that we are all enough as we are, in the right here and now. Don't waste time, energy, and heartache on comparing where you are with where other people appear to be. Appearances are deceptive, and those shiny, smiley, edited pictures you see across social media never tell the full story. They never could. We're complex things, we humans, and we have the capacity to smile in the bleakest of times. A photo shows what we want it to show; In the same vein, don't waste time, energy, and heartache on being who you think everybody else wants you to be--they don't get a say over that at all.

You get carte blanche to be whoever you want to be. The only approval that matters is that you approve of you. He was a natural in the earlier grades, so he was good. He found he just got things when he was younger, so he never learned how to take notes, or realized he could ask for help, because he'd never had to do these things before. He just didn't consider that this was a choice he could make, so he'd never considered expanding his abilities by choosing differently. He chose to just sit quietly in class, letting his stresses and confusions grow unaddressed, without being aware he was making a choice at all. The mere act of becoming aware of these additional options saw a huge improvement in his ability and outlook. Of course, there are often other underlying issues that also need to be addressed, such as prioritizing your self-care over what others think of you, or asking questions fearlessly when it's for the sake of your growth. When you identify as being smart, you don't prove it by being silent. You prove it with your results, even if people might laugh at your methods. If you identify as creative, you don't reinforce that value within yourself through dreaming alone; And if you aren't self-identifying as smart or creative, but understand the value these qualities could have in your future endeavors? Now I want to move on to another core truth of futurecasting: the future is local. What do I mean by that exactly? When I speak to general audiences, I answer that question by posing a different one: Where do you think the future is being built at this very moment? Most people imagine a sleek, shiny laboratory in Silicon Valley. Or the corridors of power in Washington, DC. Or some faraway factory in China. Rarely do they allow for the possibility that the future is also being built every day right in their own backyard. And yet that's the logical next step in the theory of futurecasting.

If the future is built by people and people exist in physical locations, then all futures must be local. To come at that another way, futures are created when passionate people get together in a room, roll up their sleeves, and get to work realizing a shared vision. Live truthfully and honestly according to that. Be kind to yourself about those mistakes because they're a sign you're trying different things, and that's a positive thing. Don't waste time, energy, and heartache on being who you think everybody else wants you to be. Not feeling we are enough can mean that we don't feel equal to our peers. When it comes to this boundary thing, it matters because we're less likely to feel able to assert a boundary and stand up for ourselves if we feel we don't measure up. Our natural negative bias means that we're always going to feel as though it's a fight to change, because it is--we're fighting the habits our brain loves so dearly; Change can feel negative, even if we know it's needed. The negative will feel magnified, too, because we're wired for that to happen, but we can stockpile letters, screenshots, emails, photographs, and anything that we receive or mementos of what we've done that counteract that negative bias. You are enough. No ifs, no buts. Then choose to recognize that your abilities aren't static and unchanging. Recognize your limits, but shift your focus so that you're less limit-focused and instead more growth-focused. In other words, choose to push your limits far enough to serve your ends, even if you have to do so in little bits. When you're able to create me-time, get in touch with your needs, and recognize your goals, it becomes easier to give yourself the self-care needed to grow. Continually Challenge Your Thinking Throughout this article I've espoused the need for various methods of perspective shift, whether it's gratitude, creative exercises, humor, or learning. This is because there is a natural synergy between broadening your perspective and recognizing where you can choose differently in life. The broader the perspective, the bigger you can think, the more you can choose, the more you can cultivate, the broader your authorship over your life becomes.